Various finds made in the area indicate that the region around Pontresina was already settled during the Bronze Age. However, the name Pontresina was not mentioned in a document until 1139. Already in the Middle Ages, the Bernina Pass was of great importance for the local farmers – who otherwise lived from cattle breeding, hunting, fishing and the cultivation of crops – as a link to the south. Traffic over the pass further increased later on with the mining of the Bernina silver works.
From 1850 onwards, Pontresina developed into a popular holiday and health resort, thanks to its good accessibility, its exceptionally invigorating and healthy climate and the growing significance of alpinism. There are different theories as to how the village first got its name. However, it is now widely accepted that "Pontresina" derives from the Ponte sarasinae, a bridge built by someone by the name of Saraschin.
The traditional Engadin village comprises five settlements – Muragls, Laret, San Spiert, Giarsun and Carlihof – and lies at the foot of the Piz Bernina (4,049 m above sea level). It is home to the biggest mountaineering school in Switzerland, the highest-altitude conference centre in Europe, and – between mid-June and mid-September – has enthralled music lovers for over a century with its daily concerts.